Women’s World Cup: Ready to show the world what they’ve got

30 June 2022

Lausanne, Switzerland: Pool D contains three teams that have not had the benefit of FIH Hockey Pro League action as Australia, Belgium, Japan and South Africa get ready to take to the field in Terrassa.

Australia’s international action since the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 has been limited to Trans-Tasman competition against New Zealand. Despite this, Australia will arrive in Spain as a team to be wary. They have won this competition twice (1994 and 1998) and won silver three times (1990, 2006 and 2014). In 2018 they finished fourth.

Current Head Coach Katrina Powell was a member of the gold medal team of 1998 and, with several months of hard work on the training field under her belt, she will be looking to lead this team to a podium finish.

The team is talking up the fact that other nations haven’t seen them in action, combined with a real fire to get back onto the world stage among the players. While there is a new look to the squad that played in 2018, with five players arriving with fewer than five caps, there is also a backbone of experience. Captain Jane Claxton is approaching 200 caps and co-captain Kaitlin Nobbs is nearing 100. Another co-captain, Brooke Peris also has more than 180 caps. Combine this knowledge with the desire to show Australian hockey to the world again and the Hockeyroos could be there at the business end of the event.

Australia’s Jane Claxton talks here about Australia’s return to international action

Belgium are a side that has benefited from FIH Pro League action and, oddly, from not being at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. This latter point was made by former Red Panther Jill Boon, who said the team had been able to quietly develop and grow for the past four years without the intense pressure of an Olympic Games. Despite a high number of caps among their ranks, Belgium is the team with the youngest average age at the competition (24.11)

The team is packed with talented players that combine the exciting use of 3D skills and long aerials with a disciplined possession game when needed. Barbara Nelen, Stephanie Vanden Borre and Michelle Struck offer stability. Ambre Ballenghien, Abi Raye and Charlotte Englebert are exciting flair players and Alix Gerniers and Louise Versavel are showing the form of their lives currently.

In 2018, Belgium finished a disappointing 10th, expect much better for Raoul Ehren’s team this time.

Here Michelle Struijk explains what the World Cup means to her squad

Japan won the Women’s Hockey Asia Cup 2022 beating India, Korea and China along the way. Under the charge of former India goalkeeper Jude Menezes, the team has grown and – in keeping with their nickname – blossomed in the past few months.

It is a team packed with talent and experience. Captain Yuri Nagai, Hazuki Nagai and Shihori Oikawa are multi capped stalwarts in the team. Yu Asai is unflappable in defence. New squad member Kaho Tanaka may only have a handful of caps so far but she has already proved herself a dynamo in front of goal.

Japan’s best finish at a World Cup was fifth in 2006 and in London in 2018 they finished 13th, despite playing some very stylish hockey. This year the Cherry Blossoms are aiming for the high branches.

Listen here to Yuri Nagai ahead of the competition

South Africa are once more the African continents sole representative and, as always, they will arrive in Terrassa ready to battle for their country and their continent’s honour. The team’s best ever World Cup finish was 7th in 1998 but in 2014 they achieved a commendable ninth, finishing above their ranking.

South Africa has competed in every FIH Women’s World Cup since 1998 and they have been solid performers at every edition.

The team arrives in Terrassa with a number of inexperienced players but a backbone of athletes who know exactly what competition of this level looks like. Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, Lilian du Plessis, Bernadette Coston and Quanita Bobbs are hardened campaigners who will always leave everything on the pitch. Temper this resolve with the energy and hard running of Hanrie Louw, Bianca Wood and the goal scoring potential of Jean-Leigh du Toit and it is a compelling team to watch.

Giles Bonnet is back in charge as Head Coach and he too knows just how to get the most from his players.

South Africa’s Phumelela Mbande and Bernadette Coston on South Africa’s hopes and dreams here

Pool D action gets underway on 2 July when Australia play Japan at 21:30 local time, then on 3 July as Belgium open their campaign against South Africa at 15:00 local time.

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You can check out all the squads here.

The media kit is available here.


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